“It’s still kind of the best and brightest. And, it’s a higher percentage of the EHL 20-year-olds where it’s their last chance to play, be seen and make a commitment.”
Each of the EHL’s 17 teams was represented by four players, creating a group of 36 forwards, 24 defensemen and eight goaltenders to be drafted into the four teams.
Eight coaches were selected to work with the all-stars.
Ryan McGrath from the Valley Jr. Warriors is one of those coaches.
“The advice to the players was just to be what they are,” McGrath said. “If you’re a goal scorer, score goals. If you’re a good defensive player, then play defense.
“Don’t try to be something that you’re not, that you’re not comfortable with. We want every player to have success, but in order to do that, they’ve got to do what they’re good at.
“From a league perspective, we’re excited because it’s a great deal for college coaches and we’re really excited to showcase the league.”
When speaking with McGrath during the leadup to the game, he said he’d take some obvious steps to put players in their best situations to succeed. He’d put teammates together on forward lines and defensive pairings, where possible.
When not, he’d do his best to combine complementary skills like forming a forward line from a checker, a passer and a scorer. Just as important, however, is being flexible and ready to adjust if players don’t fit well together.
“The important thing is during the games themselves,” said McGrath, who has experience both in coaching junior all-star groups and observing them in his nine years recruiting as a college coach. “If we see something that we might be able to adjust, such as a kid who’s playing to a particular style that might be better with two other linemates, we’ve got to make those moves early and stick to them.”
Story from Red Line Editorial, Inc.
Photo from Dan Hickling, Hickling Images